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Attorney Uri Messer, a key prosecution witness in the state's cases against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, was permitted to independently review materials relating to his court testimony next week, after refusing to report for a review session with prosecutors.

Messer is considered a critical witness in the case in which Olmert stands accused of receiving hundreds of thousands of shekels in cash-filled envelopes from Jewish-American businessman Morris Talansky. Next week he is expected to testify about a "secret fund" he allegedly managed for Olmert between 2003 and 2006, in which the cash payments from Talansky were deposited.

'Responsible for overseeing fund'

According to the indictment issued against Olmert, Messer was responsible for overseeing the fund, the money for which he received from Olmert's longtime office manager, Shula Zaken. The prosecution claims the fund held as much as $350,00 at one point.

Messer is also expected to testify against Olmert in what is known as the Investment Center affair, in which Olmert allegedly granted favors illegally to Messer, his former law firm partner.

Pre-testimony review sessions between the lead prosecutor and a key witness is considered an important part of the trial preparation process, particularly in cases where several years have elapsed since the commission of the alleged crimes, and even since Messer's questioning by police investigators.

Messer's failure to cooperate fully with the prosecution is considered to be connected with what he claims was his false imprisonment for 11 days in connection to yet another case being prosecuted against Olmert, the Holyland affair.

A spokeswoman for Messer confirmed that he did not report to the prosecutor's office for the review session, saying he reviewed the materials on his own, in coordination with prosecutors. The State Prosecutor's Office declined to comment, citing Messer's imminent testimony.